For the first 42 years of my life, I would have claimed myself as more of a yogi than I would have a runner. Sure, I had run a few races but going to yoga classes was always my top priority for physical and mental fitness.

It wasn’t until a few months after some dream shattering, changing jobs and a break-up, that I strapped on sneakers, drove myself to Trenton for a 10k and realized the freedom, soul searching and healing that came with running.

The Philly Half, the Bucks County Winter Series, they helped me unpack myself. Taking yoga, I often heard about the ever elusive yoga cry where emotions would gush forth unexpectedl20160704_093357y on the mat. That cry didn’t happen for me on the mat but, man, did it happen, quite often, for me when I was running. I met angry me, depressed me, heartbroken me, writing me, hopeful me, ideas me, strong me.

In March 2016, I gained momentum and thought I found myself on solid footing. Always curious about the group, I started venturing out with the Fishtown Beer Runners for some of their runs. Within weeks of my initial run, I went to the doctor for a check-up to have a malignant lump discovered in my breast. This also happened to be around the same time FBR was hosting a fundraiser at Frankford Hall for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Team. Timing is everything.

To both God and the universe, I give thanks for the opportunities that show up in my life right when I need them. I had no idea of the strength that would be required of me when I was making tough choices about my health and lifestyle. I did, however, know that running would be one of the tools to help me through my journey. Upon getting the diagnosis, I registered for the Philly Marathon, a goal I never imagined I even wanted to attempt. I just kept saying to myself: If anything is going to kick my ass in this life, it’s going to be me on my own terms. Just three days after my surgery, stitches and bandages still fresh, my feet pounded the pavement again to do four miles from Susquehanna Avenue to the Independence Beer Garden with FBR. Post surgery, my first race was the National Kidney Foundation’s 5k with the Fishtown Beer Runners’ team. Timing is everything.

Connecting with David N. April, who shared his story about how running transformed his life and how running was a crucial tool along his own cancer journey, I have met so many amazing and supportive people who all have their own stories of why they run. Needless to say, Thursday nights at 7pm, outside of that door in Fishtown, have grown to be moments I cherish.